Wednesday, 8 February 2012

New energy secretary’s appointment underlines unhealthy relationshipbetween government and nuclear sector

Anti-nuclearcampaigners have slammed the decision to appoint Ed Davey as the new Energy andClimate Change Secretary as further evidence of the unhealthily closerelationship between the government and the nuclear energy sector.

Campaign group,Kick Nuclear, has learned that Davey’s brother, Henry, is a partner at HerbertSmith, a law firm that has a long-standing relationship with the nuclear giantEDF Energy. Herbert Smith’s website declares that it is, ‘proud to be at thevanguard of next generation nuclear in the UK’.

Kick Nuclearspokesperson, Nancy Birch, said EDF Energy’s official and unofficial influencewithin government is extremely worrying. She said: ‘Davey’s brother advised EDFon trading contracts relating to the company’s acquisition of British Energy in2008.  Herbert Smith has sinceworked with EDF to gain development consent for the construction and operationof a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Only yesterday EdDavey made a dramatic U-turn by declaring he is now pro-nuclear. The connectionwith his brother’s professionals interests is simply too close for comfort.’

It is becomingincreasingly clear that the nuclear sector  - and EDF Energy in particular – has an excessive influenceon the energy agenda both within Whitehall and Westminster. An independentreport launched last week by Unlock Democracy and The Association for theConservation of Energy, claims the government’s own data has been skewed tosupport the ‘new nuclear’ option. The report concludes: ‘Either it’s amonumental series of mistakes or the ‘nuclear lobby’ has got control of theWhitehall machine.’

Since the lastgeneral election, EDF executives have met government ministers on six occasionsto discuss energy policy and related issues. Only last June, The Guardiannewspaper accused government officials of colluding with nuclear companies,including EDF Energy, to play down the effects of the Fukushima nuclearaccident in Japan.

Anti-nuclearcampaigners’ concerns were also heightened during Gordon Brown’s premiership whenit transpired that his brother, Andrew, was head of EDF’s media strategy. Kick Nuclear isnow calling for an independent inquiry into the nuclear lobby’s influence onenergy policy.  Nancy Birchconcluded: ‘There is growing evidence that the ‘new nuclear’ option is neithersafe nor affordable. It’s time for the public to stand up and say we don’t buythe nuclear greenwash. Germany is showing that we can have a nuclear-freefuture that is affordable and environmentally sound. New nuclear will takeinvestment away from truly renewable forms of energy and drag us backward intonuclear dependence.’